Imagine that your brain is a child in a sweet shop. It is surrounded by so much choice that it can’t actually make any valuable decisions, because the amount of possibility is too much to deal with. This is a good metaphor for the way our brains react to the constant presence of the internet, on our phones and computers.
While it can be an extremely useful tool, it is also a constant source of distraction. It makes it hard to get things done, because our focus is always split between a dozen different interests. The good news is that there are lots of techniques that you can use to increase your productivity and make sure that your work this semester stays strong.
These handy hints and tips for staying focused will help you to perform better and achieve the results that you really need this year.
Pick the Right Environment
We tend to underestimate how important environment can be when it comes to productivity during work. As the number of people working from home increases, so too does the prevalence of conditions like insomnia. In the same way that it is difficult to get to sleep in an environment usually dedicated to activity, it’s tough to work in the same place that you sleep, eat, or play video games.
You need to dedicate an area of your home to work, complete with a desk and the tools that you need. Try your best to restrict all work to this area, so that you can retain a healthy separation between study and leisure. The space should be light, airy, and spacious. For this reason, the benefits of skylights should never be underestimated either.
Try the Pomodoro Technique
The ‘Pomodoro Technique’ is a study method from the 1980s. However, it is still highly regarded and used in many different industries today. It is a time management system which encourages people to split their study sessions into carefully scheduled work and break times.
It’s kind of like the study equivalent of high intensity fitness training; focused bursts of productivity, followed by rest periods. You work consistently for 25 minutes, then take a 3-4 minute break. This is repeated as many times as is needed. However, every fourth break is expanded to 15-20 minutes. The Pomodoro system keeps the brain focused and on target.
Turn Off Your Mobile Phone
Before convincing yourself that this step is not really necessary and you can definitely cope without looking at your phone for half an hour, give it a try. See how long you last without checking Facebook or scrolling aimlessly through your emails. If the result is disappointing, start turning your mobile off and leaving it in another room while you work.
You’ll be much less likely to leave the room to check it, because it feels like more of a break from your work. While a few quick glances tends to feel like nothing to worry about (even though it does significantly reduce productivity), abandoning the study space is a more obvious failure. Plus, you won’t have the constant buzz of messages and updates in your ear.
Work in a Way That Suits You
Just as much damage can be done by forcing people to work or study in a way that doesn’t suit them as allowing them not to study at all. Ultimately, you’re the person who knows you best. If you’re a night owl and you get really productive after everybody else has gone to bed, don’t be afraid to embrace it.
The key to staying productive is making sure that you get enough sleep, no matter when you prefer to study. Eat well, find a healthy balance between work and rest, and take time out to recharge if things get too stressful. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from a tutor, friend, or relative. Everybody struggles sometimes and it is okay to need support.